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Do you experience regular anxiety about the future?

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Bible passage James 4:13–17

Boasting About Tomorrow
 13Now listen, you who say, "Today or tomorrow we will go to this or that city, spend a year there, carry on business and make money." 14Why, you do not even know what will happen tomorrow. What is your life? You are a mist that appears for a little while and then vanishes. 15Instead, you ought to say, "If it is the Lord's will, we will live and do this or that." 16As it is, you boast and brag. All such boasting is evil. 17Anyone, then, who knows the good he ought to do and doesn't do it, sins.

New International Version (NIV) Copyright © 1973, 1978, 1984 by International Bible Society

Audio Bible passage

The audio version of the passage is taken from the Contemporary English Version (CEV).

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Yesterday we learned about submitting ourselves to God in order to overcome the desires that lead us into conflict (v 7). Today we learn that we are also to submit our plans for the future to God.

In an uncertain world, too often we obsess about making ourselves ‘safe’, or self-sufficient, often by gathering wealth (v 13). All of us like to think that we are in control of our lives, and money can make us feel ‘safe’.

Jesus warns us: ‘Watch out! Be on your guard against all kinds of greed; life does not consist in an abundance of possessions’, and finishes with the Parable of the Rich Fool (Luke 12:13–21), whereupon a wealthy man stores up great wealth but dies that night.

Today’s passage underlines the essential uncertainty of the future. And yet this fact should not leave us fearful or frantically accumulating wealth as though making money was life’s only objective. Instead this uncertainty is a reason for accepting and realising our complete dependence on God.

Of course we are to be prudent with our money but ultimately we are to commit the future and all our plans into the hands of God. In our frailty, we need to remember our utter dependence on him, remembering also that ‘Every good and perfect gift is from above’ (James 1:17).


Meditate on James 1:17: ‘Every good and perfect gift is from above, coming down from the Father of the heavenly lights, who does not change like shifting shadows.’ Commit your future and your plans to God.

Michelle Smart

Deeper Bible study

Give thanks to God for a new day and all its opportunities.

Listen up! Just like the preacher addressing those on the back row whose attention is drifting, James demands the attention of a particular section of his audience. I must admit that sometimes, during a ponderous sermon, I can find my own mind turning to the coming week. I’ve even been known to get out my diary.

The issue in these verses is the wealthy and their plans for the future: what’s the best strategy for investment? How can I manoeuvre for promotion? Which investment will provide the greatest measure of security (v 13)? Yet such planning omits two key factors (v 14): first, we don’t know what tomorrow may bring, as the financial crash of the past decade illustrated so vividly; and, second, good health and long life cannot be relied on. Looking around, many of the baby boomer generation have now gone bust.

There’s a phrase that used to be commonly heard among Christians: ‘God willing’. For some it became a trite phrase, worth little more than ‘God bless you’. Yet, at its heart, it’s a reminder that every day we live is a gift from God, not a human right. This belief doesn’t dismiss planning: instead, it consciously invites God into the planning process, whether it be career or holidays, finance or family. I find it helpful at the start of each day to offer it to God, while giving a rough outline of my plans. If he changes them, that’s his prerogative.

James ends with a final dig: be honest (v 17). Don’t try to hide from those niggling thoughts about what we know we really should be doing with our wealth, time and abilities. It’s known as the sin of omission.

Brian Radcliffe

Bible in a year

Read the Bible in a year.

Jeremiah 1,2

Psalms 112,113


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Above All Else
Vicky Beeching
Copyright © 2001 Vineyard Songs (UK/Eire)
Buy this and other great worship songs at www.vineyardrecords.co.uk

I will offer up my life
Matt Redman
Copyright © 1994 Thankyou Music
Buy this and other great worship songs at www.kingswayshop.com

  • Rachael Hampton | Tuesday, 03 October 2017

    Can't get away with anything with James. I love the way he sets us straight, and calls out sin for what it is. I'm glad of theses reminders today. Years ago we would write DV after mentioning our plans in a letter to a friend. God willing. Lord, help me to hold lightly to what I think will happen, with an openness to God having another idea - which might not look like a better one!

  • Rachael Hampton | Tuesday, 03 October 2017

    Thanks GILVIN. You are a beautiful example of God's healing and the truth of what you say, that the Holy Spirit within cannot be abused. This term is used when those with spiritual authority (like pastors) use it to bring hurt to others in some way.

  • Graham Keen | Tuesday, 03 October 2017

    I had an older friend with whom I would meet frequently. When making the arrangements, he would say with a twinkle in his eye, "Yes, we'll meet then, DV WP INA". DV=Deo Volente, God willing. WP=weather permitting. INA=if nothin' 'appens!

  • Hugh Skeil | Wednesday, 04 October 2017

    We need Christians in business! Be encouraged in your vocation whether as employee or business owner, and don't ever think that "real ministry" is confined to full time church type work. There's nothing wrong with careful planning. However 1) God must be at the centre of the planning process (not just a prefix prayer or tagged on as a ""DV") and 2) Our plans should be for his Kingdom and for his glory, not personal profit. So the Christian businessperson should primarily be thinking, in the midst of their strategic planning process, "how can my business activities produce a harvest of righteousness and peace? This will almost always include profit for sustainability and greater impact, but not profit for the sake of profit or worldly power.

  • Louise Knight | Wednesday, 04 October 2017

    Thank you for your wisdom, Hugh. I will be sharing with my Christian Women in Business group.

  • Gilvin Crisifeca | Wednesday, 04 October 2017

    Bless you Rachael for shining your light on spiritual abuse.

  • Angela Munday | Wednesday, 04 October 2017

    It is God who has prepared the work for us to do and we cannot change His plans; we must have confidence in them as Jesus did...."For even the Son of Man came not to be served but to serve others and to give his life as a ransom for many." ( Mark 10:45 ) Give to us Heavenly Father as we give to others, one day at a time. Amen.

  • Derek Forster | Wednesday, 04 October 2017

    Savior, like a shepherd lead us, Much we need Thy tender care; In Thy pleasant pastures feed us, For our use Thy folds prepare: Blessed Jesus, blessed Jesus, Thou hast bought us, Thine we are; Blessed Jesus, blessed Jesus, Thou hast bought us, Thine we are. We are Thine; do Thou befriend us, Be the guardian of our way; Keep Thy flock, from sin defend us, Seek us when we go astray: Blessed Jesus, blessed Jesus, Hear, O hear us when we pray; Blessed Jesus, blessed Jesus, Hear, O hear us when we pray

  • Pete White | Wednesday, 04 October 2017

    I used to work at a Christian co-operative where we took it in turns to lock up after work. Our manager Ian was a wonderful brother in Christ and had been a former troublesome Glaswegian until the Lord zapped him. The transformation could only have been done by the Holy Spirit. When Ian and I were locking up, I would always say 'see you tomorrow ' and his reply was always 'Aye, should the Lord tarry.' It was our bit of fun but it was also profoundly true.

  • Ruth Lewis | Wednesday, 04 October 2017

    https://youtu.be/YdKr46ZWH74 Every Perfect Gift comes from Above, from the Father of Lights!!!

  • Ruth Lewis | Wednesday, 04 October 2017

    From Respond: Meditate on James 1:17: ‘Every good and perfect gift is from above, coming down from the Father of the heavenly lights, who does not change like shifting shadows.’ Commit your future and your plans to God. And to that I say Amen!!! Michelle Smart

  • Rebecca Huie | Wednesday, 04 October 2017

    The book of James provides us with a spiritual workout. It addresses all of my weakest areas, many of which I'd prefer to sweep under the rug. In every phrase there is an area that requires attention and change. This is exhausting! Are we there yet?! Lord willing and only with His help, I'll be a better person afterwards. And in addition to DV, WP, INA, may I add LW, CDR meaning Lord willing and the creek don't rise. Blessed day to all.

  • David Chipchase | Wednesday, 04 October 2017

    WL excludes the conclusion to Deeper which is in the hard copy of "Encounter with God". Today's conclusion is "Read Matt 6:25-34 with your diary alongside. Invite God into each entry, voicing your hopes, fears and ambitions."

  • Barbara Sabin | Wednesday, 04 October 2017

    . When we have exhausted our store of endurance, When our strength has failed ere the day is half-done,When we reach the end of our hoarded resources, Our Father’s full giving is only begun. His love has no limit, His grace has no measure, His power no boundary known unto men, For out of His infinite riches in Jesus, He giveth and giveth and giveth again

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